13Jun/08

USA, Blade Show and Engrave-In

Like you can already guess from title, I’ve been rather busy lately. I had a chance to do at least 3 new things: travel to States, attend Atlanta Blade Show (THE knife show) and after that attend Engrave-In. I’ll try to write short overview of them all.

USA

In many ways it’s an interesting and strange country for me. I’m used to more European way of living, so when travelling around in Europe, at least in central part of it, isn’t that much different from Estonia. Maybe a little more civilized and cleaner etc. But America had quite a few strange things in store for me. All in all I could say that everything is bigger. Roads, cars, food portions and, yes, people too. While here we have rarely any 2-lane highways, there the usual norm seemed to be something like 4-5 lanes. So driving through the center of Atlanta at 130 km/h was quite strange experience.

And, my’o’my, about 50% of cars seemed to be SUV’s. No wonder you people complain about gas prices going higher. In addition we didn’t see that many people walking around. You guys don’t even have roads for walking. At some places we had to literally walk over flowerbeds to get to the other side of the road. Also, no public transportation to talk about. You guys are too comfortable with all those cars :). Oh yeah, and no bicycles either.

But I loved the nature. Fortunately we had a chance to drive around in Tennessee and what a sightseeing it was with all those big mountains.

I loved the people. We had a chance to stay at 2 families during our trip and meet many other people at Blade and Engrave-In. I’d say 110% of kindness and helpfulness. Everybody went just out of their way to make us comfortable and see that we had everything we needed. We lived there like king’s cats. I also liked that people were so easy going and open, seemed to take life easier and enjoy it more. Here, when travelling by public transport, I sometimes have a real struggle not to laugh, because all people seem to be so sad, depressed or angry. I don’t know why they make life so hard.

Atlanta Blade Show

Now that was an experience. 3 days and about 600 exhibitors. Top makers from all over the world. If you’re a knife nut or a maker, this is definitely a show to visit. So much to see, so much to buy, so much inspiration. Also the biggest show I’ve ever been. There was actually the first time I could see in real life real high-end handmade custom knifes and engravings. A real treat for me.

During the Blade I got my Lindsay Classic with PalmControl from Ray Cover (Lindsay sent it to him, so I wouldn’t have to pay for international shipping and fees). If you don’t know, then Steve’s PalmControl is THE Cadillac of engraving world.  Just the sweetest, coolest and most useful engraving one could imagine to have. And I have it! Nice thing about it is, that it doesn’t require much air and works even with CO2 tanks. So here is how my table at hotel looked one evening:

Engrave-In

This was engravers get-together meeting after the Blade at Scott Pilkington‘s place. A very cool event, too. Many excellent and superb engravers were there along with many beginners, including me. There we had 2 seminars: one from Joe Rundell about carving wood and gold overlay and second was from Paul Hamler about investment casting. Both were very informative and I learned a lot from those.

Carving and gold overlay seminar Casting seminar

There I also got to see the coolest gun I’ve ever seen. It was engraved by Joe Rundell. It wasn’t yet ready, but even at that stage it was very-very impressive. So far he has spent over 2000 hours on this engraving and he said he’s little over half done with it.

All in all it was a very nice trip and I’m really happy about it. I definitely want to go back to USA someday to visit the people I met there.

25Apr/08

Engraving designs

A small update to the knife you saw made on video Making hidden tang knife. Now I’ve almost completed the engraving designs for it. They are almost completed, because even after improving and redrawing parts of the designs I see places that can be improved. I probably will do one more round of redrawing them.

To give you a little perspective of the time it requires to design something like this. The front bolster design took about 12hrs and rear about 4hrs. Probably need couple of hours more to improve them. Soon, very soon I can start engraving!

Front bolster:

Knife engraving design

Rear bolster:

Engraving design for rear bolster
Can you spot the problematic areas that still need improvement?

Just to remind how the victim knife looks like:

Handmade knife with sheath

06Apr/08

Blog anniversary and knife making video

I’m little late for the 1st anniversary, it was on 3rd of April, but congrats anyway to… me! This year there has been 21,024 visits to this blog and best day was the first day, when it went up on reddit and digg – 3,025 visitors. Currently the average views per day is around 100, peaking at around 170. I think I’m pleased.

Big kudos to my friend Peeter, who suggested that this might be an interesting thing to blog about. “Thing” is of course how to change your life and follow your dream. It didn’t work out so fast as I wanted, as I had to go back to regular office work to keep my skin warm. But the pursuing is still going on and I learn new stuff about knives and engraving all the time. Fortunately there’s still very-very much to go.

Now the interesting part. I made a video of how we make hidden tang knife and a sheath for it.

Knife itself looks like this:

Handmade knife with sheath

HD video from Vimeo is available from Making hidden tang knife video

Non-HD:

Right now I have engraving video in making and soon I hope to make also a short vid of how we make a blade. Later maybe damascus making, stabilizing wood etc.

Enjoy!

11Mar/08

Engraved dagger and some blades

One thing I must admit. Having a day-job and then trying to accomplish something besides that is quite hard. 9-5, or in my case 10-6, or sometimes 7-3 work hours take quite a lot of energy and then starting engraving or designing something isn’t that easy. At all. Try as I may, sometimes I still need to rest and play. Do something non-serious just to chill out. Doing months and months of 10hr or so workdays without a break isn’t that good idea.

Past month was something like that. I needed to design and engrave one dagger. Without a job it’s easy. I take one day to design it and next day to engrave it, or something similar. But right now I came from work, tired as a dog, slept 20-30 min and tried to come up with something decent for design. It took few days. Then I redid the design completely. Few more days. And then 2 nights to engrave the dagger itself.

Here’s the result:

Hand engraved dagger

Engraved dagger, full view

Few weeks ago me and dad came up with an idea, that we really need some specific products that we can sell at our website. I probably will add there PayPal cart or something similar. So if anybody wants to buy a knife from us, then can do so without calling us and going through all the waiting, designing and stuff. Custom things are still made to order, of course. So we took the bars of CPM-S30V steel that I had ordered, came up with few designs and started grinding. Right now they are ready to heat-treat, which I’ll do in professional shop.

Here are the beauties:

Bunch of almost finished knives

When they are finished with sheath and some engraving their price on the web will be around 150-200 USD.

19Feb/08

knivesandengraving.com launch and first video

Quietly, peacefully, without much noise Internet gained yet another new website. Its name is Knives and Engraving and it is about… Knives and Engraving! Who would’ve guessed, right? Actually the full name is “Custom knives and hand engraving” – main reason is to make search engines happy-happy.

This is a website for our small business. Currently there’s not much more to see than was in http://www.marrandi.ee, but I have some nice plans with it and it needs much-much TLC  in the future. Actually the new website is English cousin for Marrandi Metallehis.

AND. Last week I got myself a brand new toy. Canon HV20 HD videocamera. First quickie video is up in video section of our webiste – check it out Workshop Tour.

If any of you, my dear readers, have ideas of what you’d like to see videos about, then let me know. Currently I have 2 ideas I’d like to make video about. First is a short overview of how one knife is made (maybe even with damascus blade, who knows) and second is about engraving. Something like my post Engraving process, but in video.

12Feb/08

Damascus and logo etching

This Sunday was very productive – we managed to create our first really good looking damascus billet and to electro-etch our logo.

“Secret” behind getting a good damascus pattern is just choosing the right metals. This time I spent quite a lot of time digging in steel specs to find out which would probably create good patterns (which have enough or at least some chrome or nickel in it to create light lines etc.). After that I had to find out which steels are available locally – not many, unfortunately. What makes this difficult is also the fact, that all my info is coming from American books or forums, so I’m quite acquainted with US steels. So then I had to figure out which US steels have Russian on any European maker analogues. The damascus you see on the photo is made from O1/W2 steels. The pattern is nice, but as I found out (later, of course) that it might create problems during heat treatment. We’ll see that soon enough.

Damascus billet for knife

Electro-etching. Basically what this does, is to create any mark on metal. In our case it is our logo. The stencil was ordered from one company in US (again!). We got 6 stencils, each should be able to create about 300-400 etchings. The etching process itself is quite simple. You place the stencil on the metal, one wire from DC supply goes to the knife, other is in ‘etching pad’. This pad is just a piece of metal with cotton over it. The cotton is made damp with electrolyte and you just dab the stencil about 30 times or so. Metal is eaten away where there are holes in stencil. Following photo is just an example etch made on ATS-34 steel knife.

Electro etched knife

Actually, after the DC etch it is necessary to etch a little bit with AC too. Reason is that when DC removes the metal, AC creates black markings. AC makes the metal go from steel to etch pad 50 times a sec, and somehow leaves a black mark.

16Jan/08

Moving forward, or backward?

Quite peaceful lately here, huh? Well, there are reasons for everything, even for this long pause of quietness.

The following might be come as a shock to someone, so all you who are under 18 years of age, please call your parents and read the rest of the post with them. They can help you get over, if you happen to get traumatized.

OK, so here it comes.

I went back to work. The regular, usual, everyday ‘boring’ 9-5 office job.

I signed the contract with Skype before Christmas and started the work on 2nd of January. The position I have is systems administrator. Hey, at least we have free lunches plus free calls over Skype…

The reason, you might ask? Reason is very simple. Money, plain and simple as that. During the time I worked as freelance knife maker and engraver I had almost completely wasted my savings I had had, and knives didn’t bring in anything yet. So the reasonable part of me won over and I took the job.

But friends, all is not lost. I will definitely keep on engraving and making knives. Plus now that I have constant inflow of money I can afford to buy all the tools, materials, books and courses I need. And money to market the products and web…

Now I know that just jumping in overnight like that doesn’t work _that_ well. I need time to learn and market needs time adjust with one more maker competing for customers.

As of the website name contest. Unfortunately I must say that finally I didn’t pick any of your suggestions. It was hard decision. I had to choose (hopefully) a domain name for long-long time. I wanted it to be very simple and very search engine friendly. So the name I chose is knivesandengraving.com. I hope to put something up there real soon now ™. BUT, I will be giving out the engraved Zippo anyway. I just have to figure out who will get it – who submitted the most entries, who picked the coolest name, randomly?

12Dec/07

Domain name contest

A little contest for all readers. Prize is brand new Zippo, engraved by me, looking something like this:

Hand engraved Zippo lighter

Plus, I can engrave your name, or any other text for that matter, on the lighter, if winner wishes so.

I need to create a new web page for products and services we offer – making knives, swords, doing engravings on all kinds of things etc. But I need a good domain name for this web page. And this is where you come in. If one of you suggest a domain name which I’ll use, you get the prize (free shipping to anywhere in the world).

Contest rules:

  1. It has to be free .com domain
  2. The name should reflect what we do, to make search engines happy. Some ideas to get you started:
    1. hand engraving, custom engraving, engraving, engraver etc
    2. knives, custom knives
    3. swords, katanas
    4. art, custom etc.

    I definitely prefer names that are ‘engraving‘ related, for that will be our main focus. Knives, swords, watches, pens and whatnot will be just by-products.

  3. Short(ish) name and easy to spell
  4. Write the suggestions to comments of this post
  5. Deadline is 31st of December 2007

Best names I came up myself are: handengraversite, customengraving, engraversite, thehandengraver. Don’t offer these, beat them 🙂

Pass this post on to your friends, if they win then at least you get to see the Zippo.

Go!

EDIT: I put 2 of my engraved Zippos up to eBay, their auction ends at Sunday night (Pacific time). Check ’em out: Design 1 and Design 2. Enjoy!